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johnbasf
03-22-2005, 06:40 PM
 
 

 


Press Release (March 22, 2005)
The heat was definitely on for Rehagen Racing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The team was on fire, running even stronger in the field
than in Daytona, but was also tested by the brutal conditions for both the drivers and the cars. Rehagen Racing traveled from snow in Michigan
to 100° F weather for Grand Am Cup’s first race outside of the continental U.S., the Miller Grand-Am Cup 200 held March 13, 2005.
Early in the weekend the team struggled to find the right set-up for a flat course like the
Autodromo de las Americas circuit, and the practice times reflected this learning curve.The track
needed to be treated as a street course because any off-course excursion spelled certain disaster
since the terrain just off the track was more like the moon than a contemporary road course in the
US. As the weekend went on, the team and drivers became accustomed to the South American
circuit, but not the blistering heat.
While qualifying for the race, Mark Ackley got stuck in traffic on the tight course and was not able
to get any clean laps. His fastest lap time put the #52 Steeda Mustang Cobra 34th on the grid.
Dean Martin qualified the #58 Cobra in 15th position, a respectable spot on the grid considering
the challenge presented by the heat. Both driver-teams felt confident that they could move up
through the field once the race began.
During the race, both drivers of the #52 Mustang Cobra, Mark Ackley and Larry Rehagen, had difficulty with the driving conditions. 100°
temperatures, high humidity, and a beating sun made the temperatures in the cockpits soar, and the heat affected many drivers from many
different teams all weekend. Rubber was literally melting off of the shoes of many drivers! These conditions challenged many drivers from
various teams all weekend. Also contributing to the struggle was an extended yellow flag in the middle of race due to a power failure at the
track. The low speed of the caution laps made the drivers even hotter since there was minimal airflow through the cockpit. When Ackley and
Rehagen had pushed their physical limits to the edge, a third driver, Dave Lacey, was called in provide relief. Dave is a long-time Grand Am
Cup competitor and drove the #7 Mustang Cobra as part of the Mustang race team that helped Ford capture the Manufacturer's Cup in 1999.
After cooling off, Larry Rehagen got back in the car and finished the #52 car in 24th position.
The #58 Mustang had much better luck at the beginning of the race. As soon as the green
flag dropped, Dean Martin took the car up through the field in the first 45 minutes of the
race, moving into the 3rd place position – a gain of 12 positions in less than an hour! At the
first pitstop, Martin turned the wheel over to Ken MacAlpine. MacAlpine immediately got
up to speed and started regaining some of the positions that were sacrificed during the
pitstop, but a caution came out when the track lost power, and it would be prove to be a long
one. With other team's making their pitstops, Ken was showing in 5th spot during the
caution period. After over half an hour of slow laps, the cockpit became a hostile
environment and although MacAlpine was okay to continue on, pit strategy dictated that the
team take advantage of the yellow as late as possible to put Dean back into the car for the
closing stint. The timing was perfect – the decision put Martin back in the car with only one
yellow lap remaining, allowing him to immediately go back to work. With 30 minutes
remaining, Martin was battling with eventual 3rd place finisher Powell Motorsport Cadillac
CTS-V. Under braking going into turn 3, Martin managed to pass the Cadillac for what
surely would have been a podium position. But laps later, disaster struck. A powertrain vibration arose and quickly got worse. The #58 was
forced to retire with only 20 minutes remaining in the race. Despite the harsh conditions, Rehagen Racing had been in contention for their first
podium finish of the season, but unfortunately ended the event in 30th. The heat has the ability to conquer both man AND machine.
The Rehagen Racing team is not discouraged, however. For the second race in a row, the team has shown that the Sean Hyland horsepower and
Steeda handling can pair up to create the speed needed to put the Rehagen cars on top. Combined with the advantages of Tremec transmissions,
JBA headers and support from Roush Industries, the team expects to return to its winning form of 2004 when it travels west to California for a
two race stint at California Speedway and Laguna Seca International Raceway.
Unlike all the other races this year, the Santo Domingo race will not be covered by the SPEED channel.
For more information on Rehagen Racing or our supporters and sponsors, contact us by E-Mail or check out these websites:
Grand American Road Racing http://www.grandamerican.com/
Sean Hyland Motorsports http://www.seanhylandmotorsport.com/
Steeda Autosports http://www.steeda.com/
Speed Channel / Grand Am Cup Programming http://www.speedtv.com/programs/122/
Tremec Transmissions http://www.ttcautomotive.com/
JBA Headers http://www.jbaheaders.com/
Roush Industries http://www.roushind.com/
Photo Credits: Motorsport.com, Grandamerican.com, Rehagen Racing, TheRaceSite.com